A Prelude to Fall

I’m on a plane flying home from a business trip to Michigan. The signs of the fall are already apparent there and the colors are in the early stages of changing. Before I left I saw a couple of trees just starting the transition. After the warmest summer that the Ozarks has ever experienced there were concerns that there would be no color at all, but the gentle rains after Isaac may have saved the season.

Although Isaac brought less rain and wind than anticipate, he also brought my very first macro photo ops after a long, brown summer,
I have no idea what this is – it was on the ground and it wasn’t brown.

In a pinch, even a greened up weed will suffice as inspiration.

In between showers I would pop outside and look to see what had changed. I love rain or dewdrops on leaves.
If you look very closely and let your imagination fill in the details, I am visible reflected in the bottom center water drop. I’m gonna have to try to do that for real soon 🙂

On July 4th I posted a lament to cancelled fireworks and focused on some lilies that seemed to thrive in a hidden garden at my neighbor’s place. As promised the lilies have gone to seed and the seeds look just like blackberries.
This subterfuge confuses birds to pick them and drop them elsewhere once they discover that they are not tasty berries. I need them to carry some my way.

Another lily that peaked after Isaac was the local favorite, the Naked Lady – not sure why they call it that, but I got a chance to shoot some macro between showers.

Before the leaves change colors, a lot of the local wildlife gets a makeover for fall. This young fawn has lost her spots and is starting to go from a rusty brown to a more grey brown that matches the color of the barren winter trees. The tourists are also changing from motorcycles to minivans.

Even the cardinals are starting to spruce things up – This is one of the birds I posted images of a few weeks ago when he was impersonating a scraggly parrot. His transformation for fall is almost complete and he’s looking pretty dapper.

I don’t know what these are but they are gorgeous, I shot them at the Ponca Elk Education Center last weekend.



The Hummers at my place are fattening up and getting a bit cocky with me. This guy is roosting in my crepe myrtle, totally unconcerned with my proximity to him

In fact – I get a raspberry from him – he’s taunting me, I just know it.

Even the rain doesn’t dissuade this guy from watching over what has become his own personal feeder.

Lest I live under the illusion that I am a hummingbird whisperer and that my birds have accepted me into the flock – here are a couple that I shot at the Ponca Elk Education Center.

Apparently they are more concerned with stocking up on calories for the long journey south than they are with stalkers like me going in for the shot.

The color’s out there, and its about to explode – now is the time to take that camera absolutely everywhere! What’s the color like in your neck of the woods?

A Fungus Among Us

Issac came along and pretty much ended a summer of drought in the Ozarks. We didn’t get a lot of rain, but it was a nice slow soaking – 3 inches over a couple of days. My grass came back to life and I considered mowing it for the first time since mid May. I noticed some large white blobs over by my cedar tree while I was clearing limbs while getting ready to mow.

I saw several odd round turban-shaped mushrooms underneath the cedar tree. They were growing in a circle about 6 feet across. A friend told me that this was called a fairy circle, for me it was an excuse to put off mowing another week while I waited to see its progress. It was also an excuse to take some photos of something living. Drought = no wildflowers, no lawn, no color. Imagine my excitement at seeing white blobs!

This shot is misleading – they are not actually larger than my terrier Velcro in the background, but they were quite large. Baseball-sized fungi…


The fungi surface looked like flan that had been stretched to reveal a plush and fuzzy sub-layer.



Over the course of the next 24 hours the ball opened and flattened into a disk the size of a salad plate. Perfectly round like one of those parasols you get in a fancy drink, only not so fun and colorful…



All-in-all they were kind of boring, but you gotta work with what nature gives you. I thought I would try to impose some artsy angles on them to make them appear more dramatic. I got very dirty doing this.


The details of their gills were pretty amazing – there are spider webs in there, or maybe tiny cob webs – a tiny microcosm…



This is the view a field mouse or packrat might have as they approach one of these babies – reaching for the sky. I got very dirty getting this shot. I also was bitten by chiggers. There’s nothing I won’t do for art…


Eye level to a rabbit, if my dogs would let a rabbit get this close.


Enough already, I’m putting on some calamine and getting out the mower!

What’s in my Kit – What’s in your Kit?

I’ve been building my kit for about 3-4 years. The more I shoot the more I know what I still need. I’m fascinated by the mechanical nature of vintage equipment and I think my kit shows that – what’s in your kit?

What’s in my Kit.

via What’s in my Kit.

My Box of Ozarks Crayons


An Ozark Spring starts with plentiful rains followed by waves of colors – vivid and saturated like a box of crayons. Forsythias, red buds, dogwoods, violets, daffodils….on and on from late March through August.

Like much of the south, the Ozarks are under pretty extreme drought conditions this year. The season started well and just stopped in mid May. Except for some roadside chicory, the color is all but gone. The field grasses are yellow, the earth is crunchy. I miss my crayons….











I know that the drought, like all things, will pass. The colors will be back.

In Lieu of Fireworks

Like much of the south and midwest – the Ozarks are in the middle of a heat wave. In the last couple weeks we’ve had only a couple of days when the temperatures were under the century mark. I’ve run out of wildflowers to photograph – the heat has claimed them. it’s so dry that all fireworks have been banned and all of the shows have been cancelled.

For a shutterbug, this is serious. No shot at those once-a-year fireworks over the water photos, no summer greenery, no roaring rivers. I still carry my camera everywhere, but I mostly get shots of thirsty deer or birds at the feeder on my porch.

Last night my 99 year old neighbor, Mary Jane called. She told me that there were some blackberry lilies in the “old garden” – I should come shoot them now and when they go to seed In a couple of weeks. When I got off work I decided to head over. It was 105, but I was desperate for something colorful and alive to photograph. Mary Jane took me into the woods, past some old debris to a small clearing – everywhere there were these gorgeous lilies – smaller than the native tiger lilies – only about the size of a half dollar.




I never knew there was an “old garden” – I learned that it was planted by Mary Jane and some young people who came to the area in the early 70s for a Folk Festival. In the years after Woodstock these kinds of events attracted young 20-somethings and when Mary Jane met them, she was happy to let them camp on her property and even live in her parent’s abandoned house. To this day these flower children are a part of her life – she cared for them as young people and now many of them return the favor. Anyway, once I got past the brush at the perimeter it’s clear that this was an amazing spot. Lilies, passion flower vines, redbuds – all following the contours of a draw as it slopes down the hill. Right now the deer bed down at night in the clearing, you can see their tracks and that the brush has been compacted where they rest – but winding throughout it all are these rich and colorful lilies, growing in this shady spot.




Before the lilies open their petals are twisted together in a spiral.


The centers of these flowers are very thin and delicate.


Needless to say, these small lilies were as exciting to me as a fireworks display on the 4th of July. Truly, nature is full of wonders. I had given up on finding anything beautiful to shoot and now I have the “old garden”. I think this will help me make it through the heat wave – i can only imagine it’s beauty when we finally get some rain.


My Mother’s Favorite


What’s so special about dogwoods? I grew up in Las Vegas and I remember my mother making a sprig of wood pulp dogwoods when I was a kid. It sat on the top of our TV. She always told me how lovely they were – her favorite flower. Me, I thought they were boring. Just a white flower with 4 petals, nothing special. That lonely sprig in a vase on the TV did little to convince me that they merited the awe in my mother’s voice as she recalled her childhood among them in the woods of Virginia. Just another thing my mom and I disagreed on.

About 10 years ago I relocated to the Ozarks. The first spring was amazing to me – the variety of wildflowers, the shades of green, the wildlife, the water – and the dogwoods.

A canopy of delicate blossoms afloat in the understory of the forest – serenely suspended between heaven and earth. Glorious – and another thing my mom was right about.

Wish I had the chance to share these with her.











This one’s for you mom – miss you…


Saturday in the Park – hotter than the 4th of July


This weekend the real heat of summer settled over the Ozarks. We hit triple digits and in this humidity that an be brutal. I met a friend at a local lake – she was introducing some friends to kayaking. I knew I couldn’t take the heat on the water so I stayed on the docks and played with some newer gear.

This is a shot of the docks taken with my Lensbaby set up, shown at the top of the blog. It’s a tilt-shift system – meaning that you tilt the lens so that it is no longer parallel to the sensor, this gives you a slice of focus that is tilted away from the sensor. This look is used a lot in those photos that look like dioramas or miniatures. I think that look is cool and I’ll probably try it at some point but for now I am interested in experimenting with the shift. I’m not interested in sacrificing composition for a novelty effect.


These shots let you see how the focus is off center – the second one really shows how the focus is tilted when you look at the license plate.

This is a stack of John boats and canoes on the shore. I made the grass near the canoe my focus, letting everything blur towards the edges.

Of course I cannot go anywhere without trying to practice capturing images of flying things and the Lensbaby is just not the tool for that –

Song sparrow


Resting dragonfly

Nectar filled blooms

I’m always game to try new things photographically – it pushes you to master a new skill set. I’m just a noob when it comes to tilt-shift, but I’m intrigued and curious about the potential. I think that’s a good thing for an artist.

As I hit the road for the drive home though, the tilt-shift is packed away – my long zoom is in place in case I get a shot at Bambi.

Katydids or didn’ts


I saw this fella on the hood of my Jeep a couple of weeks ago. He hung on through my 15 mile commute, he seemed to be there for a couple of days – at least I thought it was the same guy, they all look alike to me.





Then suddenly he was gone. Early last week he (or his twin) was back, clinging to the windshield for dear life – but with new and improved wings.







After posing for a few shots he took off and I followed him up and over the jeep soft top.





At this point he changed directions and came at me.


He jumped onto my hand – which freaked me out a bit so I brushed him onto the ground. Immediately I felt bad, after all I was his ride. I thought I would pick him up an put him back on the Jeep. Bad idea – he made the loudest noise! I ditched him there in the parking lot.

Random Stream of Consciousness – with pictures.

Random musings in no particular order…
Have you noticed how many people post photos of their bare feet on Facebook? Odd. Feet are typically not your most attractive feature and if you post it as your profile photo every time you comment, post, or even play Words with Friends your friends are confronted with your funny looking feet. This is as close to bare feet that you will see from me online. My boss thinks they look like “bear feet”. I took this photo because I thought it was silly to wear leather five fingers while standing on a fake fur rug.


This is one of my Jack Russell Terriers – Squeegee. She rarely lets me take her photo. I was trying out a new zoom one day and got this shot of her. I cropped in on her eye and saw my reflection as well as my whole front yard I her eyes. Spooky.



I often walk around looking for something to take photos of. Sometimes I find weeds. I think dandelions are fascinating. The daisies are coming up through cracks in the sidewalk. I love their symmetry. I think the leftover stem of the dandelion looks like a primitive golf ball.


I have been putting together a kit for shooting macro for a couple of years now. I know that you probably expect to see bugs eyes or flower centers when you think “macro” – I like to use my gear for getting close to just about anything. The second shot is my Mom’s class ring. I shot this with an antique bellows – when you shoot tight with shiny things in the background you get those cool circles – in all honesty, I was more interested in making those circles that the objects I was shooting.



Feathers are amazing. Luminous, textured, shaping. We all know what a chicken looks like with no feathers. Birds are not so majestic naked. Sometimes I think people would look better with feathers. Kind of smooths things out.





Characters – Eureka Springs is full of them. We have lots of parades and festivals – these are events that characters just cannot resist. The woman in the clown make-up is a staple of this scene. I could probably pass her on the street without her makeup and never know her even though I have taken dozens of shots of her. The last shot is my pal Judy, we like to take shots of each other taking shots of each other.



This is Velcro, she’s a 14 year old Rat Terrier mix. I rescued her about 8 years ago. She likes to dig – a lot. When I first brought her home I twisted my ankle in one of her many holes while walking across the lawn, so had some top soil trucked in to level things out. It took less than a month before she destroyed the lawn again. I have re-leveled the lawn at least a dozen times. I am at the point that I have decided to let her dig to her hearts content until she crosses the Rainbow Bridge. Then I’ll fix the lawn. The upside? No grubs, no moles, no wasps.

Baby animals


I read once that all mammals experience a serotonin release when they look at other baby mammals. I think that’s true and I think it answers the question as to why we would willingly bring home an animal that will poop in our house and eat our favorite shoes. Baby animals are like crack. They make us feel good. I’m hoping that this good feeling makes for a good place to sign off. Look closely into the kittens eyes. You’ll feel great.

Butterfly – Flutter By


I always learn something when I spend time with Mary Jane.

If you’ve read any of my blog you’ll know she’s my nearly 99-year-old neighbor. She has a place a little less than a mile from me on our country road.


She loves her garden. She spends hours caring for it. It doesn’t look like your typical garden. The first time I saw it I thought it was an acre of weeds. I offered to mow it for her and she told me that she didn’t trust me to leave the good parts. She prefers to trim her garden with some folding hand shears while sitting on an overturned milk crate.

The truth is that Mary Jane has an exhaustive knowledge of Ozark plant life. She knows what you can eat, what soothes your skin, what makes a good tea, and what can kill you. She knows what will have a beautiful blossom and what will attract or repel insects. Every year she moves in and out of the greenery with her shears, thinning and opening the space.

When something special happens in the her garden, Mary Jane will give me a call and I will come over with my camera. One of our rites of spring is the arrival of the swallowtails to feed on the sweet rocket. She will cut enough away to make a path to walk through and it makes shooting easy.

One Saturday in April I got the call. I packed my long zoom and my macro lens and headed out. I started with the log zoom. I could easily get within 10 feet and my bird lens was just the ticket. The swallowtails were so busy feeding that you could just find a spot and focus while waiting for a one to light.


A tiger swallowtail feeding on mottled sweet rocket blossoms.


A tiger swallowtail with a spicebush swallowtail in the distance.


Spicebush swallowtail in the rocket.


The swallowtail is the only butterfly that flutters while it feeds, this can make it a challenge to photograph them.

After about a half hour shooting I noticed that Buffy, one of Mary Jane’s cats had followed me and was watching the scene. I decided to put away to zoom and see if I could get close to him. I took out the Macro – it can take a fair portrait.


I was glad that I had changed lenses when I spotted this guy. He let me get incredibly close.




The zebra swallowtail was not bothered by me in the least. He moved methodically from flower to flower.



I didn’t notice the ladybug on the right while I was shooting.

Sometimes I can get so wrapped up in catching the shot of the insect that I forget how really special the sweet rocket is. The structure of this flower is really beautiful.



Tiger, another of Mary Jane’s cats, couldn’t have been more bored with it all.


This sweet rocket butterfly garden lasted only a few days. Another of the Ozark’s micro seasons. I thought the swallowtails were gone until next year. About a week later I got another call from Mary Jane. It was about noon, but I was at work and couldn’t get there for a few hours. Once I got there I had about an hour to shoot before dusk. The swallowtails were back, this time at the mock orange bush, something Mary Jane planted to draw butterflies. She sees a garden as more than plants, it’s what the plants bring.

This night I had to use the long zoom. The mock orange was taller than me and these tiger swallowtails were easily spooked. Shooting upwards let me get some of the evening sky into some of the shots.



As the sun got lower the number of swallowtails really tapered off.



Towards the end of the evening the butterflies were in the interior of the mock orange.


As the sun set we stood in the garden and Mary Jane pointed out what she would thin next, what was coming up, and what was blooming now. If I’m completely honest, I still couldn’t see it, it looked like weeds to me. I don’t have the vision.

I looked back at the mock orange and asked Mary Jane if she knew where the butterflies went after sunset. She said they went to sleep.